I picked Daniel up from day camp and we decided to wait for a train. There are two lines of railroad tracks that run through Belvidere. There used to be passenger service (so I’ve been told), but these days the traffic seems to be mostly cars from the Chrysler plant at the edge of town. When I picked Daniel up, we heard the train whistle and soon we could see the two yellow engines slowly making their way towards town.
“Can we watch it?” asked Daniel. There were people waiting to get out of the park district parking lot, so we couldn’t sit there. I drove a few blocks and parked downtown. We had a prime location: the first spot, closest to the tracks. We sat and waited for the lights to start flashing on the crossing signs.
And waited… and waited.
The trains going through town tend to be slow. The freight trains probably are required to slow down when going through Belvidere. Unlike a lot of places, the tracks downtown just have the flashing lights. There are no zebra gates. Since this train looked like it was full of cars, I assumed it would take awhile to get up to speed. We ended up sitting there downtown for ten minutes. Trains are slow, but taking ten minutes to go a few blocks? I got out of the truck so I could get a better view down the tracks.
There was no train in sight.
The tracks are pretty straight. I could see quite aways in both directions. Towards the west, the tracks were empty. I knew the train hadn’t passed us, but I checked east to make sure. No train. Daniel and I both saw the diesel engines. He read the writing on the sides: UNION PACIFIC. Trains don’t normally turn around once they get going. The car plant is a few miles away, so even if it had, I would think it would have turned around long before reaching Belvidere.
“It’s the Ghost Train Mystery,” said Daniel. “We should look for clues.” I shook my head as I started up the truck. Why mess up a good ghost train mystery with mundane facts?